In conjunction with the beginning of the school year, the City of Oak Ridge Police Department has announced “Operation Drive Safe,” an initiative that places special emphasis on traffic enforcement in and around school zones.

Police Chief Jim Akagi, explained the need for the program. “We are fortunate in Oak Ridge to have schools located in many of our neighborhoods throughout the community. With the increase in volume of traffic in these residential areas, however, comes the responsibility for drivers to respect the posted speed limits and to be aware of children and other pedestrians moving quickly within and around the school zones.”

Police officers will provide enhanced patrol in different geographic locations each quarter in order to monitor vehicular traffic and promote pedestrian safety.

In addition to “Operation Drive Safe,” the Department announced it would no longer enforce violations for unlawful right turns on a red signal at an intersection based solely on evidence obtained from a traffic enforcement camera.

A new state law took effect July 1, 2011 requiring municipal governments to erect “No Turn on Red” signage at intersections where traffic enforcement camera systems are used to issue violations for failure to make a complete stop before making a permitted right turn. The law invalidates traffic violations for failure to make a complete stop based solely on evidence from an unmanned traffic enforcement camera if no sign is present.

“In Oak Ridge, the only locations currently affected by the new law are the intersections of the Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette/New York and North Illinois at Robertsville Road,” according to Akagi. “Out of 269 red light violation notices issued in June,109 of those were for right turn on red violations. In looking at the cost/benefit of installing signage versus the number of violations at these intersections, we determined not to invest in signage at this time.”

Chief Akagi added that the new law does not affect violations based on direct observations by law
enforcement personnel. “We want to be very clear that making a right turn on red without coming
to a complete stop is still illegal. Officers who directly observe a violation—even at the Turnpike
and North Illinois intersections--will take the appropriate enforcement actions in support of public
safety.”

News Media contact: Amy Fitzgerald, Government and Public Affairs (865) 425-3554 or
afitzgerald@oakridgetn.gov.